The Dance Revolution of the 1970’s
Contact improvisation is a modern dance form where two people move while maintaining a connection. It originated from portions of Steve Paxton’s movement studies, which he began in 1972 at Oberlin College. As with every major event that happens in the world, the introduction and investigation of contact improvisation affected everyone in society one way or another.
Many people associate the 1970’s as the “hippie era” in American history. Due to this, the majority of society was open to new ideas. It was the beginning of the sexual revolution and the women’s revolution was just getting underway. Younger members of society were participating in at least one of the numerous Vietnam War Protests, which they organized. They were into “free love”; they wanted to do away with racism and allow everyone to be treated the same and on the same level.
As a result of the vast majority of society and open mindness, Paxton’s ideas in the new movement were accepted. Those who attended performances, also referred to as “jams”, never knew quite what to expect. This is because it is a modern dance form, which is always changing, due to the fact that each individual dancer brings their own experience and current state of mind to every dance. Depending of the dancer’s state of mind, the piece may be sensual, fluid, invigorating, and basically anything else the dancer chooses to make it. Some of the older members of society were not as sure of this new change of dance. They were afraid of change, and not as willing to accept it as the younger members were.
Societal values of the 1970’s were challenged by contact improvisation. According to older member, this is how life should happen: a boy goes out and meets a girl, they fall in love, get married, move to a suburb, begin a family, then the female raises the family while the male works to support them. Contact improvisation went against the norm of the older people in society, but not necessarily against the norm of the younger people in society. As explained earlier, these young people were going against the norm...